On Sunday, December 1st, 32 million homes (and 63 million readers)1 in America received the following issue of Parade newspaper-insert magazine:
The subtitle on the cover of this issue of the “most widely read magazine in America”2 reads: Rick Warren—One of America’s most influential pastors delivers a life-changing message on the connection between getting healthy and doing good. You’ll find Rick Warren showing up in quite a few other places of late as his new book, The Daniel Plan (based on his Daniel Plan diet plan), hit the streets on December 3rd.
The Parade article boasts of the “collectively dropped 250,000 pounds” the Saddleback congregation has lost since it began The Daniel Plan. The article also says that they did this with the help of three doctors: Dr. Amen, Dr. Hyman, and Dr. Oz. The article doesn’t, however, talk about what else the Saddleback dieters have lost—which would be any semblance of spiritual discernment that they might have previously had. That might sound like an overly-strong and critical statement to those who don’t have all the facts, but as we have reported on for nearly three years now, Rick Warren, unfortunately, compromised the spiritual well-being of his congregation when he teamed up with Amen, Hyman, and Oz, all of whom are eastern-style meditation advocates.
If you have read any of our coverage on The Daniel Plan, you will understand exactly what we mean. Here is a list of some of the stories we’ve done on Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan:
Now what about Rick Warren’s new book, The Daniel Plan released by the publisher of Warren’s other books, Zondervan (the book is co-authored by Warren, Dr. Amen, and Dr. Hyman? For untold reasons, Dr. Oz is not one of the authors of the book, although he is mentioned in the book. There’s no doubt that Oz is the strongest public adherent for New Age practices, and perhaps Warren decided he was too much of a high profile New Ager to include in the book. But keep in mind that Amen and Hymen are not too far behind. Amen promotes tantric sex, and Hyman is connected to a shamanic organization called FourWinds (“where modern science meets ancient wisdom“). So excluding Oz from Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan book isn’t very impressive.
One has several buying options that Zondervan has provided: The Daniel Plan book (Kindle and hardcover), The Daniel Plan Journal (Kindle and hardcover), The Daniel Plan Study Guide (Kindle and Paperback), The Daniel Plan DVD Study, The Daniel Plan Cookbook (due out in April 2014, written by Warren, Hyman, and Amen), The Daniel Plan Study Guide with DVD, The Daniel Plan Church Campaign Kit (due out 12/23/13), an mp3 and CD Daniel Plan, and the Spanish edition El Plan Daniel: 40 Dias Hacia Una Vida Mas Saludable.
There are a number of things we could say about The Daniel Plan book (such as Warren’s use of The Message “Bible“), and perhaps we will at another juncture in time. But what we want to point to presently, we find is extremely important. As is so often the case with Rick Warren (and other Christian leaders in today’s world), he has spoken out of both sides of his mouth in The Daniel Plan with regard to meditation. First, early in the book, Warren makes a strong statement against mantra-style meditation. He says:
In many ways, biblical meditation is the exact opposite of eastern or New Age meditation, which is about emptying your mind and repeating a single word or mantra. In contrast, biblical meditation means taking a verse of the Bible, such as a promise or a command or a story, and seriously pondering its meaning. You think through the implications for and application of God’s truth to your life. This is the kind of meditation that David referred to when he repeatedly said, “I meditate on your Word day and night” (see Psalm 1: 2; 119: 148, etc.). (Kindle Locations 842-850)
Anyone reading that would think the author of this paragraph was clearly against eastern-style meditation and contemplative prayer (which is the repeating of a word or phrase to enter a “silent” state of mind). When we read this paragraph from the book, we grew very suspicious because Rick Warren has been promoting eastern-style meditation authors for years (such as his endorsement and promotion of Gary Thomas and his book Sacred Pathways, in which Thomas says the following:
It is particularly difficult to describe this type of prayer in writing, as it is best taught in person. In general however, centering prayer works like this: Choose a word (Jesus or Father, for example) as a focus for contemplative prayer. Repeat the word silently in your mind for a set amount of time (say, twenty minutes) until your heart seems to be repeating the word by itself, just as naturally and involuntarily as breathing.(p. 185)
Repeating a word or phrase for twenty minutes is classic transcendental meditation. Sacred Pathways is currently on the Saddleback website listed as a recommended book by Kay Warren (a multitude of other books by contemplatives (e.g., Nouwen, Manning, Foster, Willard, Calhoun, Yancey, Ortberg) are in that same resource section of the website).
And, as we pointed out above, Warren’s very own three Daniel Plan doctors are teachers of meditation, and in fact, the Saddleback Daniel Plan website has, on different occasions, promoted New Age type meditation. See our article that gives one example: “Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Accelerates – Tells Followers to Practice 4-7-8 Hinduistic Meditation.”
This is why it is very strange that Warren gives a warning about meditation in his Daniel Plan book. A little later in The Daniel Plan, the confusion begins. Warren says:
Decades of research have shown that prayer calms stress and enhances brain function. Dr. Andrew Newberg at Thomas Jefferson University used brain SPECT imaging to study the neurobiology of prayer and meditation in those that dedicated time to those disciplines regularly. He found distinctive changes in brain activity as the mind went into a prayerful or meditative state.2837).
When one hears talk of how prayer and meditation help to calm stress, this is almost always referring to the practice of meditation wherein the participant either repeats a word or a phrase or focuses on an object or the breath. In this particular case in The Daniel Plan, the paragraph above is footnoted to the following:
Barbara Bradley Hagerty, “Prayer May Reshape Your Brain … And Your Reality,” NPR, 20 May 2009. http:// www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104310443 D. S. Khalsa, D. G. Amen, A. Newberg, et al., “Kirtan kriya meditation and high resolution brain SPECT imaging,” accepted by Nuclear Medicine Communications, June 2010. Andrew Newberg, “The Effect of Meditation on the Brain Activity,” AndrewNewberg.com, http:// www.andrewnewberg.com/ research.asp (Kindle Locations 5240-5244).
One of the things this footnote material references is “kirtan kriya meditation” (i.e., sa-ta-na-ma meditation). An article titled “WARNING: Kundalini Yoga’s ‘Highest Mantra Meditation’” states that “one [ meditation practice] coming onto the scene is being touted as the greatest Kundalini Yoga Meditation, called Kirtan Kriya.” The article explains the various steps in kirtan kriya meditation, which are the typical steps in any form of eastern meditation.
Remember, the purpose of eastern-style meditation is for one to find his divine true self (the God within). We believe that when one practices meditation and goes into altered states, he or she encounters demonic or familiar spirits in these altered states, which, yes, have the ability to give them “benefits” (at least for a while). After all, Satan is an angel of light and his minions are ministers of righteousness—they can come across as good. But what one eventually gets is a complete spiritual makeover and a new set of spiritual beliefs. These new beliefs are interspiritual and panentheistic—thus the antithesis of what the Bible presents.
Right after this section of The Daniel Plan, where kritan kriya meditation is footnoted, Warren states:
Besides growing your relationship with God and building a foundation for spiritual health, prayer offers many health and stress-relief benefits. Physicians Larry Dossey (Healing Words), Dale Matthews (The Faith Factor), and others have written books outlining the scientific evidence of the medical benefits of prayer and other meditation. Some of these benefits include reduced feelings of stress, lower cholesterol levels, improved sleep, reduced anxiety and depression, fewer headaches, relaxed muscles, and longer life spans. (Kindle Locations 2853-2858).
Larry Dossey happens to be listed in our new Booklet Tract by Chris Lawson titled A Directory of Authors (Three NOT Recommended Lists) under the New Age Authors section. The names listed under that section are all advocates and/or teachers of mantra style meditation (the earmark of New Age). When Dossey “and others” write about meditation, they are talking about outright New Age meditation (even if they don’t call it “New Age”). So while Rick Warren gives a warning earlier in his book about mantra meditation, he basically mocks his own warning later in the book by pointing readers to someone like Larry Dossey and kritan kriya meditation. He doesn’t only mock his own warning—he dismisses it as well as leaving the reader to think that his warning is not that important but just a side-step opinion (take it or leave it—there’s better stuff to come). One thing we have learned about Rick Warren over the past decade is he is a pastor of confusion. In one venue, he will say one thing, and in another venue, he’ll say the complete opposite. His double-minded speaking has left for many an open door for spiritual deception.
In the Parade magazine article, it has a photo of Rick Warren and six other Saddleback members who have participated in The Daniel Plan diet. Of those seven pictured, it states: “[T]hey’re all believers in the faith-based, holistic wellness program Warren outlines in his new book, The Daniel Plan.” And you can be sure that with the highly successful marketing techniques that Zondervan and Warren have frequently used, millions of others will be believers in The Daniel Plan too.